Background

Operable Unit 07 (OU 07), Construction Debris Landfill, also known as Formerly Used Defense Site (FUDS) Project 15, is a historic waste disposal site first visible as ground scars in aerial photographs from 1949 at the Chincoteague Naval Auxiliary Air Station. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) conducted environmental investigations under the FUDS Program prior to transferring the site to NASA.

Engineering Evaluation and Cost Analysis

NASA is planning to conduct a non-time critical removal action (NTCRA) to address unacceptable risks associated with landfill waste at the CDL. Solid waste is present near the surface and extends to a depth of 13 feet in some areas. Action is necessary to address the potential for direct contact with exposed landfill wastes by human and ecological receptors. 

NASA developed an Engineering Evaluation and Cost Analysis (EE/CA) to evaluate alternatives for the NTCRA and selected excavation and off-site disposal of waste and affected soil as the preferred alternative. Contaminants in groundwater, surface water, and sediment will be addressed in a future Feasibility Study.

NASA anticipates beginning NTCRA excavation activities in January/February 2023, with field components completed over a four-month period. The project schedule will be adjusted as necessary throughout the project. The waste and contaminated soil will be removed utilizing conventional construction and excavation techniques and will be transported to the Accomack County Landfill (see Site Poster). Approximately 7,450 cubic yards of construction debris and approximately 8,065 cubic yards of soil are estimated for excavation and disposal. The excavated areas will be backfilled with clean fill and topsoil, and will be seeded to minimize the potential for erosion.

NASA encourages the public to review the EE/CA and associated technical documents below to gain a more comprehensive understanding of activities that have been conducted at the CDL.NASA accepted comments on the EE/CA during a 30-day public comment period from October 28, 2022 to November 27, 2022.

Fact Sheet

Public Notice

Site Poster

For any questions regarding Operable Unit 07, or NASA WFF's Restoration Program, please contact:

  David Liu
  Restoration Program Manager
  NASA Wallops Flight Facility
  Mailstop: 250.W
  Wallops Island, VA 23337
  david.liu-1@nasa.gov
  (757) 824-2141

History of the Construction Debris Landfill

The Department of Defense (DoD) established the Chincoteague Naval Auxiliary Air Station (CNAAS) in 1943 at the current Main Base portion of NASA's Wallops Flight Facility (WFF) to establish a training facility for World War II naval aviators. The Navy built three runways, several buildings and supporting infrastructure in the early 1940s. The original runways and buildings have been modified and extended, as needed, to accommodate the evolving mission of the facility. Accordingly, the WFF property has experienced periods of construction and demolition of runways, buildings, and roadways. Analysis of historical aerial photographs document a series of ground scars indicative of waste disposal in areas at the northeast corner of WFF that are visible in 1949, 1954, 1959, and 1963 aerial photographs. By 1963, some of these features are no longer visible. By 1974, none of them remained visible. Investigations described below confirmed that the area had been used for disposal of construction debris and ash.

Construction Debris Landfill Site Today

The CDL is in the northeast corner of WFF bounded to the west by Runway 22 and to the north and east by Little Mosquito Creek. The site generally consists of mowed grass with shrubs and trees near Little Mosquito Creek. Construction debris can be found at the surface near Little Mosquito Creek and buried by as much as 11 feet of sand fill further inland. The type of construction debris observed at the Site consists of empty metal drums, paint, scrap metal, rebar, glass bottles, bricks, tires, concrete, and burned rubbish.

07 Map

Previous Investigations

The CDL site was discovered in 2000, when the United States Army Topographic Engineering Center produced a historical analysis report of area ground scars, disturbances, channels, and other activities at WFF dating back to before the United States involvement in World War II. Based on the aerial photographic analysis, four Areas of Concern (AOCs) within the CDL were defined and named with respect to their geographic position to each other: Northern, Central, Southern, and Western AOCs.

  • Northern AOC – This AOC was an area of disturbed ground in 1949 that was an excavation in 1954.
  • Central AOC – This AOC was an area with several mounds of unidentified material in 1954 and was an excavation by 1959.
  • Southern AOC – This AOC was an area of disturbed ground with two man-made channels. The AOC's use as a burning ground was confirmed on a 1950 site map.
  • Western AOC – This AOC is interpreted to be a shallow excavation that is now located inside the runway area fence.

In 2015, NASA and the DoD, through the Department of the Army, signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) to transfer funds from DoD to NASA to conduct necessary response actions under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA). The MOA was authorized by section 315 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015. In 2021, NASA and USEPA entered into an Administrative Agreement and Order on Consent RCRA-03-2021-0022TH (AAOC) for the FUDS Program. The AAOC designated WFF as a Superfund Alternative Approach site. 

During cleanup, complex sites may be divided into several distinct areas to make the response more efficient. These areas, called operable units (OU's), may address geographic areas, specific problems, or medium (e.g., groundwater, soil) where a specific action is required. WFF currently has nine OUs. The CDL is designated as OU 7. Below is a summary of the environmental activities at the CDL.

Limited Site Investigation – In 2002 - 2003, USACE completed a Limited Site Investigation, consisting of soil and groundwater samples from the areas southeast of the Central and Southern AOCs.

Soil Gas Investigation – In 2004, USACE collected a single soil sample from the contaminated soil layer approximately 7.5 feet in depth. The sample was analyzed for volatile petroleum hydrocarbons and gas chromatograph fingerprinting analysis. Results indicated weathered JP-5 aviation fuel was present. USACE then completed a soil gas investigation, which measured elevated levels of benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylene (BTEX), and chlorinated solvents.

Remedial Investigation – In 2007, USACE conducted a Remedial Investigation (RI), which included geophysical surveys, a membrane interface probe survey, test pitting activities, and soil, groundwater, sediment, and surface water sampling.

Supplemental Field Investigation, Human Health Risk Addendum and Ecological Risk Assessment Addendum – Fieldwork activities for the Supplemental Field Investigation (SFI) was conducted between May 2015 and November 2017. The purpose of the SFI was to determine if the lower part of the surficial aquifer was contaminated and to refine the extent of the waste material within the AOCs. Fieldwork included trenching, soil, groundwater, sediment, surface water, and pore water samples.

In 2022, NASA completed the SFI, which included a Human Health Risk Assessment (HHRA) and Ecological Risk Assessment (ERA). The HHRA evaluated risks to human health potentially posed by Contaminants of Potential Concern in the affected environmental media beneath and within the vicinity of the Site that cannot be eliminated using screening criteria. The ERA identified Contaminants of Potential Ecological Concern for potential ecological receptors and habitats and potentially complete exposure pathways at the Site.